Experience magic, deceit, trust, love, and friendship as Rhodri seeks his destiny to save King Richard and his land from a long-ago curse that was cast by an evil enchantress, Homeria, when Guinevere and Sir Lancelot betrayed King Arthur. Homeria ensnares both Rhodri and his father in her own quest to possess Excalibur, Arthur's fabled sword. Rhodri encounters Wiccan ideas and pagan practices that challenge his beliefs about Christianity, but is strengthened through visions and messages received by gazing into a magical pool. Readers will be swept up by the adventures that lead to Rhodri's discovery of his identity. Characters are well developed, especially Rhodri, and readers will relate to the many emotions portrayed. Some sections, especially those involving Rhodri's daily life, seem over-long and distracting. While there are many Arthurian novels available, this one incorporates interesting and unusual approaches to the legend, making it an enjoyable read for mature genre fans. 2005, Amulet Books, 362 pp., Ages young adult.
Rhodri Falcon leads an ordinary life in medieval Wales. His father is a master falconer and Rhodri helps him with the birds. One day Rhodri meets a blind smith who tells him about the Telling Pool, where one can see many secrets. Rhodri puts this pool out of his mind until his father goes to fight in the Holy Lands. When Rhodri meets the smith again, Tantallon shows him how to use the Telling Pool. While Rhodri is overjoyed to see his father alive, he is soon disappointed to find that his father betrayed his mother while away. When Rhodri's father returns, he is much changed and is now an angry and violent person. The only way to save him is for Rhodri to find the woman who bewitched his father. This rich story uses both historical events and Arthurian legend as a backdrop, but neither the history nor the legend ever overwhelms the well-crafted plot and characters Clement-Davies has created. 2006, Amulet Books, Ages 12 up.
Amie Rose Rotruck
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-The late 12th century in England brought anguish to a divided land as King Richard led many of the ablest men on the quixotic and dangerous journey known as the Third Crusade. Rhodri, the son of Owen, master falconer on a manor in the Welsh borderland, is left in charge when his much-admired father follows their overlord to the Holy Land. Interweaving this historical fiction with a liberal dose of Arthurian legend, Clement-Davies creates a rich mixture of themes and metaphors. Two archetypal figures vie for Rhodri's soul: Tantallon, a Merlin figure who teaches the boy to look for answers in an ancient, magical pool deep in the forest; and Homeira, an evil-hearted Morgana figure who entraps his returning father's heart. Descriptions of Owen's behavior after experiencing the Crusade will ring true with anyone familiar with posttraumatic-stress symptoms. Rhodri's journey through the countryside to free his father from Homeira's enchantment tests the boy's courage, though a subplot involving an ostracized Jew and his daughter tests readers' credulity. The descriptions of medieval falconry, life on the manor, and Rhodri's interactions with other boys are carefully delineated, but those not steeped in Arthurian legend may find themselves confused by the context of Tantallon's teachings and Homeira's treachery. On the other hand, that could spur them to read further. The power of old legends to effect children's lives is always an interesting theme, one that is more fully developed in Kevin Crossley-Holland's The Seeing Stone (2001), At the Crossing-Places (2002), and King of the Middle March (2004, all Scholastic).-Connie C. Rockman, Stratford Library Association, CT Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
In his newest ponderous, superficially mystical fantasy, Clement-Davies links the "betrayal" of Guinevere and Lancelot to the corruption of the Christian church in Albion, as well as the general rise in lawlessness brought on by Richard the Lion-Hearted's crusade and subsequent imprisonment. Raised by devoted parents, young Rhodri grows up with enough love in his heart to survive a climactic attempted seduction by Homeira, a transplanted Persian enchantress. This after many long sessions gazing into the titular magical pond, which is a sort of Wiccan History Channel where he not only learns that he's a descendant of that star-crossed Arthurian couple, but follows the adventures of his father, who has gone off to fight with Richard's army in the Holy Land, then later lose his heart (literally) to the aforesaid enchantress. Chucking in a malicious rival who skulks about overhearing every damaging conversation, a wise old hermit connected to a certain merlin (get it?), a cameo by Excalibur and stereotypical Jews and Gypsies, the author eventually winds his tale to a happy close in which Arthur's Sword of Peace cleaves Homeira's stony heart on Christmas Day, just as news of Richard's return arrives. No, it's not a send-up. Would that it were. (Fantasy. 11-13)